They spent years serving Everest climbers. This time, they climbed the highest peak on their own

Heli Everest team on the summit of Everest

Phurba Sherpa and Keshav Prasad (Sobit) Gauchan have been to the Everest Region over a thousand times. While Sherpa, who is one of the directors at Heli Everest, frequented the area to look at the possibility to expand the business, Gauchan, who is a helicopter pilot, flew in and out of the region with mountaineers and tourists.

But on May 11, the two did something they had always dreamed of. The duo, along with the Bahrain Everest team, reached the summit of Everest becoming the first commercial climbers to do so in the season. Gauchan also claims he could be the first helicopter pilot to have scaled the highest peak of the world.

Long-awaited dream

Phurba Tsering Sherpa and Sobit Gauchan resting at the base camp after their camp rotations.

“I’m an avid trekker and have always been fascinated with the Himalayas,” says Sherpa. “I always dreamt about climbing Everest but to be honest I didn’t have the courage to do so. This year I mustered up the courage and thankfully reached the top of the world.”

Gauchan, on the other hand, had always been fascinated by Everest. Having flown to the base camp and higher camps, the summit of Everest always pulled him.

Phurba Tsering Sherpa at the Everest Base Camp. Around 400 climbers were gathered at the EBC this year.

“I’ve flown close to the summit multiple times,” says Gauchan. “I can’t tell you how proud and happy I am to have done something I have always wanted. Truly a dream come true.”

Gauchan says that his thirst to climbing began after hearing stories from climbers who summited mountains in Nepal.

“Maybe it was curiosity that took me to the mountain,” says Gauchan.

Sobit Gauchan gets ready to cross the Khumbu Ice Fall.

Determination amid doubts

View of camp 1 on Everest.

It is not that he did not have doubts. While climbing upwards from camp 3, he says he kept on questioning why he had come there. But, putting the doubts aside, he kept on climbing until he reached the top.

Both Sherpa and Gauchan say that climbing with Seven Summit Treks and their experienced guides helped them stay calm even at the death zone.

Seven Summit Treks clients take a rest before pushing forward.

“We had Guinness Book record holder Tashi Sherpa (also a director at Heli Everest) with us. When we were going upwards from camp 3 during the night, we were scared as it was mostly uphill. But, he kept our hopes up and encouraged us throughout the trip,” says Gauchan.

Camp 2 on Everest is located at 6,400 metres. Climbers often make two rotations to camp 2 before their summit push.

The hardest part of the climb, according to Phurba Sherpa, was the section beyond camp 3.

“I had a hard time near the south summit. It was dark and we had walked a lot that day,” he says. “But, when we reached 8,500 metres, the sun appeared beyond the mountains and when I looked down, all the mountains were below me. I still get goosebumps when I think about it.”

Sobit Gauchan at camp 3.

Proud moment

Climbers at the Hillary Step on their way to the summit.

Both say that when daylight struck, and they got to witness the view of the surrounding mountains, all their pain washed away. The summit, they say, was heavenly. Surrounded by mountains, they were speechless. Spending some time at the summit taking pictures and taking it all in, the duo started their descent.

Around 200 climbers reached the summit of Everst on May 11 along with Phurba Sherpa and Sobit Gauchan.

“Getting down was harder than going up,” shares Gauchan. “While we were climbing up, it was dark and we didn’t really see how steep it was. But, while coming down, the steep slopes were quite scary. But we didn’t have the option to stay up and came down gradually.”

Sobit Gauchan posing with Nepal’s flag on the top of the world.

Managing Director of Heli Everest Fur Gelje (Phurba) Sherpa says that he would like to congratulate all three for summiting Everest. He says that even though Heli Everest has been taking clients up and down the region, this year was special as three of the company’s directors reached the top of the world.

“Sobit (another name of Keshav) might just be Nepal’s first-ever pilot to have reached the top of the world. This is a proud moment for all of us,” says Fur Gelje.

All Photos: Sobit Gauchan and Phurba Tsering Sherpa

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Thapa is a senior travel photojournalist.

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